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When I went to NYFW a couple of weeks ago, one of the first things my friend Greta said to me was, “Girl. You’re not blogging 3x/week like you say you do.”
She was right, and I completely deserved to be called out. And I’m thankful to have been called out by a friend, and not some internet troll.
I’ve been very inconsistent on here for the last few months, and I feel like its time to come clean and share with you all what’s been going on behind the scenes. At first, I jumped to the conclusion that I was over blogging and that somehow, in the back of my head, I wanted to quit. However, after some soul searching, I realized that couldn’t be further from the truth.
It was my anxiety that was causing me to dread something that deep down, I knew I loved to do.
Jumpsuit: Free People (Also here and here) | Bag: Cult Gaia (On Sale) | Hat: Brixton | Sunglasses: Karen Walker
My breaking point? I noticed that I was having unexplained stomach and digestive issues for years. I brushed it off for a long time. Maybe I ate something bad. Perhaps this is just what happens when you get older. I made up a lot of excuses. Truth be told, I don’t have the best health insurance being self-employed. I prolonged a doctor’s visit because I was afraid I was going to be hit with an insanely high deductible (but phew, child, that’s another issue I won’t get into).
After years of pain and discomfort, I finally made an appointment and was diagnosed with IBS. IBS is triggered by — drumroll, please — stress and anxiety. I knew that my anxiety has gotten worse over the last few years, but at that moment, I finally realized that my mental health has been affecting my physical health for years, and it’s time I take action and do something about it.
All of the pieces started to come together. I kept scrapping photoshoots and never posting them because I was nitpicking the results. I convinced myself not to write that travel guide because I was sure that no one would read it. I struggled to get out of bed because I thought I was a failure. And as a result, my website suffered.
Guys: I’m tired. These invasive thoughts have led me down a dark road, and I decided that I’m not going to let them hold me back from reaching my full potential any longer. Here are a few things I’ve been doing over the last few weeks that have helped me get better at learning how to deal with stress and anxiety and get back to the healthy, bubbly, hardworking Alicia, that you’re used to.
How to Deal With Anxiety and Stress
Regular Therapy Sessions
Honestly? When it comes to learning how to deal with stress and anxiety, nothing compares to good ol’ therapy.
I travel a lot and travel masked the fact that I needed therapy. I would feel on cloud nine in a new destination, and when I returned home, that’s when things fell apart for me mentally. Plus, booking a standing therapist appointment when your schedule is super inconsistent? Forget about it.
I knew that I needed to start working with a therapist regularly to get back to being myself. Sometimes when things got bad, I’d book an on-demand therapy session through an app, but now I know that it is something I need to be doing every week. I encourage anyone and everyone who’s reading this to consider therapy, no matter how big or small your issues may seem. It will help you in the long run!
Meditation & Mental Health Apps
I really, really love technology.
Lately, I’ve been starting off my day with sessions in the Bloom app, which offers daily self-guided therapy. It’s not a complete replacement for therapy, but it’s something that lifts my mood and helps me start the day off on with the right mindset.
You can customize the daily session based on your needs. I opted to do self-affirmations for a portion of each session. Being self-employed, I’m often very critical of my own work and have played the comparison game way too many times, so it’s nice to practice a bit of self-love each morning to remind me what my strengths are.
Stick to a Fitness Routine
Admittedly, I’ve struggled with sticking to a fitness routine for years. Going into a new gym or studio has always been intimidating for me. Honestly, I was devastated when I got my knee injury back in 2017. I finally got into a great groove and found a personal training program that worked wonders for me. That all quickly went down the drain, and I had to start from scratch with fitness yet again.
Since I travel a lot, working out regularly has been extremely difficult. Gym memberships don’t make sense for me. Monthly unlimited plans at a studio were a waste of money. I’m only home about ten days a month on average, so that ruled out a lot of options for me. Despite all of this, I noticed that working out puts me in a way better mood, and it’s something I need to do consistently.
I’ve done a few things to help get me into a routine. First, I purchased one of Lauren Elyce’s custom coaching plans, and I now know what workouts I can do at home or in the gym. This comes in handy when I’m traveling! I also recently signed up for an OrangeTheory membership, and the great thing about this plan is that I can go to any studio in the U.S. with my membership — I’m not limited to my home gym. I still enjoy barre workouts, so I buy smaller class packs rather than monthly, unlimited memberships so I can attend those at my own pace!
Limit My Time on Instagram
Do you know what social media app makes my mental health plummet the most? Instagram.
I’m not going to spin this into an IG bashing session. I see the good in IG. Through Instagram Stories, I can connect with my audience, show them the BTS, and get real. I get somewhere between 150-300 DMs a day on the platform, and even though an in-feed post might tank or the algorithm didn’t work in my favor, I know that I’ve built a great little community.
That being said: I used to try to post five times/week on Instagram, and honestly, it’s not worth it anymore. I usually spend a minimum of an hour on the app when it comes time to post because I would try to engage with others, find the perfect hashtags to make the most out of the algorithm.
In that hour, I’d browse through everyone else’s highlight reels, and it would make me feel crappy about myself and second guess the quality of my work. I’d agonize over why a post didn’t get a certain amount of likes, or I’d feel crappy when a sponsored post got a low reach on the platform. A lot of aspects of IG aren’t fun, and the platform hasn’t been that enjoyable for years. I can’t spend five hours a week playing the comparison game or feeling bad about my content. That’s five hours too many. Especially when I’d rather devote that time to getting better at learning how to deal with stress and anxiety.
Yes, I make a good chunk of my income via Instagram. Yes, I should probably churn out content 5x/week since the platform makes me money. But for my mental health, I need to take a step back. I produce content for six other platforms, and none of those other platforms put a dent in my mental health like IG was. It’s time to focus on the legit connections I’ve made on the app and ignore all of the other B.S. that has come along with it.
If you’re still reading, and have put up with my inconsistency over the last few months, I thank you. I hope that with better mental health, I can get back on track in all aspects of life.
Photos by Tom McGovern
Do you have any tips I missed on how to deal with anxiety and stress? Let me know in a comment below!